It's been awhile since I wrote an article about P n' P (party and play) also called Chem Sex. I could go for hours (literally) about all the little things you can do to have a comfortable and safe experience, but I'm going to keep it short and sweet. Here are my top 5 favorite harm reduction tips:
1) HANDY J
When you're in the moment, you don't want to be stumbling around for a condom, or accidentally mixing up your needles and safer-use supplies with a partner. Keep safer-sex supplies handy, and mark your needles and safer-use supplies with a sharpie and store them in a personal bag. For more safer-use tips: Keep Calm and Reduce Harm
2) "IT'S OK, I'M CLEAN"
Be discerning when deciding to hook up with someone. Some people may say "I'm clean," or "I'm negative," because they want to get in your pants, but what does that actually mean? Some people have HIV and/or other STDs. Some people don't. Some people have actually never been tested, or got tested 15 partners ago. Some people ARE telling the truth. Some people don't know they are infected. You can't be sure from looking or talking to someone right? When in doubt, consider using a condom or other type of barrier.
3) CHANGE IT UP
Condoms can dry up faster than you can. Dried up condoms can tear or break completely! Stop every hour to change condoms, and add lots of condom-safe lube each time: Well-Oiled Machine
Insertive "female" condoms are a great option when standard "male" condoms don't sound fun or aren't available to you. You can put one in up to 8 hours before sex. Non-latex and less mess. Learn more here: Too Big to Fit in Here and check out the diagram below.
4) WASH YOUR HANDS
Shigellosis is on the rise among gay and bi men in King County. Shigellosis is spread when poop (even the tiniest amount) gets in the mouth. This can happen during oral sex, rimming, or not washing hands properly. To help prevent Shigellosis and other intestinal bugs, wash your hands before and after:
• Touching your genitals, butt, or mouth, or those of a partner
• Removing a condom or insertive condom
• Eating anything
For more info about Shigellosis: Sh-Sh-Sh-Shigella
5) PrEP & PEP
If you're negative for HIV, and think you might have come in contact with HIV through condomless sex, a condom break, or a needle stick, you might consider getting on PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). PEP can lower your chances of getting infected with HIV. How does it work? You take a 28-day course of HIV medication to decrease the chance that the virus will settle in your body.
If you feel you might have been exposed to HIV, go to the emergency room at Harborview within 24 hours of the exposure, to get a prescription for PEP. You can also see your primary care provider, if they can see you immediately. PEP works best when started right away, and will not be prescribed for you after 72 hours (3 days). For more info on PEP, check out my article Feelin' Peppy.
Guys who are HIV-negative and at high risk for getting HIV can take PrEP. How does it work? You take a pill once a day, every day, to lower your risk of getting HIV. It's important to keep in mind that PrEP alone won't stop you from getting infected with HIV.
It's strongly recommended that guys who take PrEP also do the following:
• Use condoms every time for anal and vaginal sex
• Talk to their partners about their HIV status and using protection
• Get tested regularly for STDs, and get treated if an STD pops up
• Get tested every 2-3 months for HIV
• Take their PrEP meds every day
• Use brand new needles and works every time they inject
TALK TO YOUR MEDICAL PROVIDER if you are interested in PrEP. For more info about PrEP, check out my article That Little Pill.